Williams hopes to stay 'best of the rest'

SILVERSTONE, Great Britain, Monday, Jan. 29, 2001 - 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan-Pablo Montoya is not going to make any predictions about the results he will achieve in his first season of Formula One, but the Colombian driver does make one...

SILVERSTONE, Great Britain, Monday, Jan. 29, 2001 - 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan-Pablo Montoya is not going to make any predictions about the results he will achieve in his first season of Formula One, but the Colombian driver does make one promise.

"I can't really go and say 'I'm going to win races or I'm going to do this or that,'" Montoya said. "You just have to go out there and do the best you can. The only thing I can say is that I am always going to give 100 percent out there.

"The way things have been going with Williams has been good so far," Montoya said of winter testing. "It has been encouraging because you learn a lot of stuff. You learn to understand the car more. I learned to work with it more, so it is quite good."

Montoya spoke at the official launch of the new Williams-BMW FW23 on Jan. 27 at the Silverstone circuit. He and teammate Ralf Schumacher will strive to maintain the Williams-BMW team's "best of the rest" status in the FIA World Championship this season. The team finished third in last year's Constructors Championship behind the dominant Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes squads.

"First of all, we'll try to stay where we are and be the best of the rest, and our target is to come closer to the top two," Schumacher said when asked of his and the team's goals this season.

Montoya may be a rookie in F1, but he's certainly no newcomer to the sport. After working as a test driver for the Williams F1 team and winning the FIA International Formula 3000 championship in 1998, he moved to North America where he won the 1999 CART championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500 driving for Chip Ganassi's team. Schumacher, the younger brother of 2000 World Champion Michael Schumacher, is starting his fifth F1 season and his third with the Williams team. Both Williams teammates have reputations as hard chargers. "We have two remarkably competitive drivers," said team owner Sir Frank Williams. "Juan is a bit of an unknown in a Grand Prix car, but I don't think there is much doubt in this team about what he can do. I don't suppose that they will get along marvelously, but that's not what is important. What is important is what they do on the track." The new FW23 is the 23rd model created by the Williams team, which has won nine Constructors Championships and seven Drivers Championships. Another former Indianapolis 500 winner, Jacques Villeneuve, won the last title for the team in 1997. Created by the design team led by technical director Patrick Head, chief designer Gavin Fisher and chief aerodynamicist Geoff Willis, the FW23 is both an evolutionary and a revolutionary car compared to last year's FW22. "You look at every individual component on the car and every system," Fisher said, "and you try to identify the weaknesses. You make every improvement you can make. If they turn out to be revolutionary, then fine. If it's more intelligent evolution, then so be it. I would say if you were looking for a generalization, there is probably a higher percentage of revolution toward the rear end of our car this year." The rear end of the car has a new seven-speed longitudinal gearbox and an all-new BMW V10 engine. BMW returned to F1 last season after an absence of 13 years.

"It is an all-new engine," BMW's motorsport director Mario Theissen said. "Last year's engine was more successful than anyone could expect. But to us it was clear that if we want to close the gap on the two top teams and us we had to do an all-new engine, which was an improvement in terms of weight, size and power.

"We started the design of this engine already in January 2000, before we did the first race with the old engine. It was on the dyno in late September, on the track in October, and we have been doing track tests since the first week of December." While it is going to be difficult for any team to oust McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari from the top two spots, the Williams team hopes to at least break the stranglehold those two teams have put on victories recently. "We want to finish every race with both cars, have brilliant pit stops, great strategy and maybe a win or two," Williams said.

-IMS

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Jacques Villeneuve , Patrick Head , Chip Ganassi , Geoff Willis , Mario Theissen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams